I know it sounds crazy to say that about a team that is currently in last place in their division, but anyone who has been paying attention to baseball for the last month knows it’s the truth. After starting the season with a disastrous 3-18 record, the Reds have gone 33-30, bringing their current record to 36-48. Sure, that’s still a pretty poor record and keeps them 12.5 behind the first place Brewers, but the way they’ve turned the season around and made themselves somewhat respectable deserves a hat tip from even the harshest of critics, but they don’t seem to be getting much respect.. especially in All-Star Game voting.
A lot of people predicted the Reds to be in the cellar of the NL Central this year, but nobody expected them to be this bad. Replacing Manager Bryan Price with Jim Riggleman, Mack Jenkins with Danny “Dr. Death” Darwin as the pitching coach and a rare early season trade for Matt Harvey has completely changed the trajectory of the 2018 Cincinnati Reds. A lot of the early struggles weren’t necessarily Bryan Price’s fault, but you can’t fire the roster, so something had to be done. And boy, did it work.
Eugenio Suarez is tied for the National League lead in RBI with Javier Baez despite playing 13 fewer games than Baez thanks an inside pitch in Pittsburgh that broke his thumb. Scooter Gennett is hitting .332, which is good enough for the top spot in the National League. Every week we’re amazed by someone in the starting rotation (Tyler Mahle’s 12 strikeout performance this weekend rings a bell). When Amir Garrett isn’t busy making Anthony Rizzo and the Chicago Cubs his bitch, he’s striking out just over 1/3 of the batters he faces, and in convincing fashion. Oh yeah, and Joey Votto is pretty damn good too.
Not only are the Reds winning games, they are doing it with explosive offense outbursts, decent-but-sometimes-great pitching and often in come-from-behind fashion. In the past week and a half, they’ve had a four-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs, took two of three from the first place Atlanta Braves, and split a four-game series with the first place Milwaukee Brewers. During this stretch, the hometown Reds had two 6-run innings against the Cubs and an 8-run inning against the Brewers. The offense is coming from everyone and most notably the National League’s answer to Shohei Ohtani in Michael Lorenzen. This season Babe Lorenzen is 4 for 6 with three bombs (including an absolute rocket of a grand slam on Saturday).
We all know the Reds aren’t going to be making the playoffs (ok, we SHOULD know, but I keep convincing myself it’s possible) but at least they’re making baseball fun to watch again in Cincinnati. The first month of the season is like nothing I’ve ever seen, which is saying a lot for a lifelong Cincinnati sports fan. Lately, even if the Reds lose a game, they’re still fighting until the last out and playing with an edge that wasn’t seen for much of the last two seasons. Oh yeah, and Joey Votto is arguing with umpires and starting bench clearing brawls every other day.
With top-prospect Nick Senzel in the pipeline and whatever we get in return for Matt Harvey at the trade deadline, 2019 could be a lot of fun. I’m not too worried about that right now though. I have a deposit to put down on playoff tickets. #Worst2First2018Follow @BennyMacBlog